Manama: Ways to combat extremist ideologies and protect young people from their scourge will be the focus of a national initiative in Bahrain.
The initiative will bring together researchers, religious, security and educational figures and civil society from the kingdom to analyse intellectual extremism and to suggest solutions and remedies, Shaikh Abdullah Bin Ahmad Al Khalifa, Chairman of Bahrain Centre for Strategic, International and Energy Studies (Derasat), said.
He outlined four axes to address and confront extremism.
“There is a need to spread wider the values of moderation, contain extremists and engage in dialogues with them,” he said.
“Media must be able to counter terrorist propaganda to radicalise and recruit young people. Another aspect to be reviewed is drying up the financial sources of extremist groups because their survival is linked to the support and funding they can get. The fourth theme of the initiative is the ongoing military operations in Syria and Iraq and the internal security measures.”
Arab nations have been suffering from extremism although their divine religions clearly enhance the values of moderation, tolerance, pluralism and peaceful coexistence, he added.
“The plague of extremism will go on as long as there are conflicts in the Arab countries and terrorism is not rooted out,” Shaikh Abdullah said as he introduced the initiative during a talk show hosted by Bahrain Radio.
He referred to the Saudi gentle approach in tackling radical ideologies as a good example of counter-radicalisation strategy.
Under the programme, Saudi Arabia used religious figures, psychiatrists and psychologists to debate extremist inmates, refute their claims, counsel them and explain to them the genuine values of Islam.
The counselling takes place in one-on-one sessions following after a psychological assessment of the militant or radical individual is conducted.
Riyadh reported a high success rate that prompted some Western countries to study the model.
“If we want to tackle the issue of extremism successfully, we need to face the reality on the ground and admit that there is radicalism in some religious platforms. There are young people who are being tricked into embracing radical thoughts that are translated into acts of terrorism called ‘Street Terrorism’.’
Shaikh Abdullah charged that Iran was the main instigator of radical fundamentalism in the region.
“Bahrain has greatly suffered from Iran’s interference in its internal affairs, and its funding, supporting and training of terror groups that have targeted innocent people, security men and public and private property,” he said.
“Radicalism starts as an idea, but dangerously deepens when it finds various kinds of ideological, financial and media support.”